Brandon Vogt

My Debate on “Sola Scriptura” with a Protestant


While most of America celebrates Halloween on October 31, a growing number of Protestants celebrate “Reformation Day,” the 497th anniversary of when Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg cathedral. The act is generally considered to have sparked the Protestant Reformation.

To mark the occasion, I participated in a two-hour radio debate last Thursday on the topic of “sola Scriptura” (aka “Bible alone”), which is one of the central dividing lines between Catholics and Protestants. The show was called “Theology Matters” and my dialogue partner was Michael Willenborg, a Protestant post-graduate seminarian.

The debate was lively and very charitable. Even though the host and my dialogue partner were both Protestants, I felt welcomed and fairly treated.

Listen to the full debate below, and if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them in the comment box:


Right-click and download the debate here —> Download MP3 (116 MB)

After the debate, some friends asked for resources that provide clarity on why “sola Scripture” is untenable. Here are my favorites:

  • AccuTesters

    With all respect, this interview is 2 hours which should be endgame in 10 minutes. Dr. Scott Hahn put out a taped course on Romans a while ago, in which he showed how Luther modified Rom 3:26 to insert the word “faith alone” (“not” works), and then somewhere else inserted “sola scriptura”.

    He was tampering with Scripture, for his own self serving needs (and also partly because he was deficient in Latin translation skills).

    I do not think this topic should be approached in a lukewarm or wishy-washy manner, merely to avoid “hurting” the other party’s feelings. As you showed in another blog post, St. Nicholas was more direct with Bishop Arrius–he punched him in the face!

    I am not saying to punch Lutheran’s in the face. But just go direct to the point. “sola” is not scriptural. The last passage of John itself states something like “all that Christ taught them could not fill the pages of this book…” i.e. Scripture itself declares in several places that there is an Oral Tradition and Magisterium which is necessary to interpret the Texts themselves.

    ENDGAME is here: In the past decade or so, I do believe the Lutherans and Catholics came to an ecumenical agreement, in which the Lutherans finally acknowledged that Luther did in fact tamper with Scripture (or at least translated with errors), specifically that Rom 3:26 passage was reverted to its original form, “justified by faith apart from works”. The Lutherans agreed that “works” meant the old redundant animal sacrifices, etc. in the Old Law, and did not mean that we today are exempt from doing good works (different meaning of the word works) in a sense to “earn” salvation. I can’t recall what passage Dr. Hahn said was “sola scriptura”, but the primary reason Luther claimed that was to get rid of recognizing any hierarchy or Magisterium, essentially so he could make up his own rules.

    I think it’s important to go for the jugular, direct to the point, because as you know, this day and age, we have short attention spans, and “twittery fingers” and too much to attend to. Sure you’ll hold the attention of a few people patient enough to listen through 2 hours. But for millenials, they like strikes hard and fast, as they are more entertained, and will remember more if the “face was punched in a knockout”.

    Just my two cents!

    (Let’s also not forget Luther’s evisceration of the Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, merely because he couldn’t stand the doctrine of purgatory). These guys made me cringe as uncomfortable as St. Nicholas must have felt hearing Arrius’s sophistries. What kind of logic goes with fallible popular probablistic vote to determine canons, and then claims that Catholic documents are not from God, and that the Bible alone is “oral tradition”? Easy answer: Endgame (above).

    There was brief mention of natural revelation, but it’s important also (as we are both engineers) that Scripture says, “It is the glory of God to remain hidden” and also to “seek truth”. Thus revelation is ongoing, and not limited to Scripture only, as itself attests. To take the opposing position “sola scriptura sola fideis” has resulted in anti-intellectualism, not being open to rigorous dialogue “seeking truth”, and has wrought great harm. Fewer of us pursued sciences, law, etc., and thusly over time, secularists took over our labs and judiciaries, such that now we have Bibles outlawed in classrooms, Roe v Wade, and also the recent marriage re-definition.

    A good philsopher / historian is Vishal Mangalwadi, who outlines the genocidal impact of “faith alone, scripture alone” in his “Why Christianity Lost the America”.

  • Nate

    Bringing up the Eastern Catholics…NICE!

    • It had to be said. It really grates on me when Protestant Apologists critique what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t teach anything–the Catholic Church does.

      • David Bates

        Smooth Mr. Vogt, smooth…

© 2017 Brandon Vogt